Jagadguru Bodhendra Swamigal was born in Kancheepuram. Kancheepuram is one of the 7 moksha shethrams in India and the only one in South India.
There were a couple in Kancheepuram by name Kesava Pandurangan and Suguna. They did not have a kid for quiet some time. They prayed to their guru, Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi, who was then the pontiff of Kanchi mutt. He blessed them that they would have a child very soon and they returned happily. They then had a male child born to them shortly. They named him Purushothaman. Purushothaman was a very bright kid. They performed his upananyanam (sacred thread ceremony) and took him to their guru Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi. Their guru enquired who the kid was and they replied that it was the Guru’s kid. The guru then asked Kesava Pandurangan if he would give the kid to the mutt if he really meant that he was his kid. Kesavan then told his Guru that he would check with his wife and let him know. He then stepped back to speak to his wife. They knew that if they give him to the mutt he would become a sanyasi and that their lineage can not continue as he was their only son. Suguna was now crying and when her husband asked her the reason, she said that she was crying for the only reason that he had told their guru that he would check with her and then give their son. She then said that she and the kid belonged to him and that he belonged to his guru, and there was no need to ask her for permission. Kesava Pandurangan then happily gave Purushothaman to Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi. The guru arranged for a teacher who would teach Purushothaman all the Vedas and sastras. Purushothaman studied along with another boy called Gyanasakaran. He finished all his studies when he was only 18. The only thing left to be learned was Bhramavidhyai and he wanted to learn this from his Guru and Vishwadikendrar had also promised that he would teach him Bhramavidhyai personally. However Vishwadikendrar had gone on a yatra and was now in Kasi. Purushothaman and Gyanasakaran had to go by walk from Kanchi to Kasi. One day they started their journey to Kasi to meet their guru. Gyanasakaran was good in astrology and knew that he would die on the way to Kasi. As they were close friends he told Purushothaman that if something happens to either one of them the other should perform their death ceremony and then give up his life in the Ganges so that both of them can be together even after death. They had only covered half the distance and Gyanasekaran suddenly fell ill and passed away. After performing his death ceremony Purushothaman continued his journey to Kasi. On reaching Kasi he met his guru prostrated to him and told him what had happened to them on their way. He then asked his guru’s permission to give up his life in the Ganges. The guru felt bad as he had planned to make Purushothaman as the next pontiff of the mutt. He then told Purushothaman that if he has do what he promised to his friend and also do what he wanted him to do there was a solution and asked him if he would agree to it. Purushothaman immediately replied that he would agree to his Guru’s words. The Guru then said that getting in to Sanyasa ashram was like having a new birth. This way he would keep up the promise made to his friend and also keep him happy by becoming the next pontiff of the mutt. Vishwadikendrar then gave him sanyasa and named him as Bagavannama Bodhendrar. He then stayed in Kasi and learnt everything from his guru. His guru then asked him to go back to south India and do Nama pracharam and show the power of Bagavan Nama.
There was a great saint called Lakshmidharar in Puri, who had written a book called Bagavannama kowmudhi which was a nama siddhantha grantham. Vishwadikendrar had also instructed Bodhendrar to collect this book on his way back and wanted him to master that that book too. He then came to Puri had darshan of Lord Jagannath and then went to Lakshmidharar’s house. Lakshmidharar had passed away and his son Jagannatha Pandit was there. It was evening and the house was locked from inside. Bodhendrar not wanting to disturb them sat down outside the house and started meditating.
A few days earlier an event had happened there. A couple from south India had come on a yatra to Kasi. One night when they were staying in that village the husband woke up the next morning and found that his wife was missing. He searched for her the next morning and could not find her. He then told the villagers about this and they said that some Muslims would come in the night and kidnap any women they find and take them to be with them as their mistress. The husband felt very bad hearing this but dint want to stop his Kasi yatra because of this.
He completed his yatra and was returning back through the same village that day. He was performing his rituals in the river and a Muslim lady seeing him came running to him and started crying to him. He then realised that it was his wife. When he asked her what had happened, she told him that there was no time now and that they have to escape now and promised to tell him what happened later. They then ran through the forest and came to a safer place. The lady then told him that they had kidnapped her in the night by tying her mouth with a cloth and ravished her. She then asked her husband to save her from them and asked him to have her as maid if not as a wife. The husband then told her that if the sastras allowed this he would take her. They then decided to come to see Jaganatha Pandit to check with him on what the Dharma sastras say.
The couple reached Jaganatha Pandit’s house the same night to ask him what the Dharma Sastras say. Bodhendrar was meditating outside the house and they knocked the door to wake up Jaganatha Pandit. When he opened the door they told him their story and feel on his feet asking him to give them a solution. Hearing this he asked her to say Rama Rama Rama and after that they could live together. As he said this his mother who was seated inside asked him why he degraded the power of Rama Nama by asking them to say it 3 times and told him that his father would ask even the biggest sinner to utter Rama only once and that would take care of removing all his sins. Bodhendrar who was sitting there now stood up and asked Jaganatha Pandit if there was any proof for what he was saying. Jaganatha Pandit then said that his father’s book had the proof for the same. Bodhendrar then asked him to show the book. Bodhenrar finished reading the book the same night with the help of a small lamp. The next day he called the couple and Jaganatha Pandit and said that the sastras were true and that his father had mentioned very clearly what he told yesterday, but the outside world wouldn’t believe this. Bodhendrar then asked the couple to go to the river and take a dip after chanting Rama nama. He then said that though she is now wearing a Muslim dress once she takes a dip after chanting Rama nama she will get back to her old attire and become as pure as how she was before she left her husband. The entire city gathered on the river bank to see this event. The lady came and prostrated Bodhendral and he asked her if she believes that by saying Rama nama all her sins would go away. The lady said that she doesn’t know about Rama nama but she believes him and considers him as her guru. She then said Rama and took a dip in the river. As she came out she had flowers in her head, kumkum in her forehead and turmeric applied all over her body. On seeing this everyone started chanting Rama nama and she happily went to her husband. The couple then prostrated to Bodhendral and took his blessing. Bodhendral then continued his yatra to south India.
On reaching Kanchi he wrote several books as desired by his guru. Some of them that are available today are Bagavannama Rasodhayam, Bagavannama Rasarnavam, Bagavannama Rasayanam. Our guru Sri Krishna Premi Maharaj has translated Bagavannama Rasodhayam in Tamil and the same is now available for people who don’t know Sanskrit. Botherndral was waiting for his guru to come back so that he could show his books to him. Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi finished his yatra and came back to Kanchi. Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi was very happy with his work and asked him to preach the importance of Bagavan Nama. Bodhenral then travelled across India and made everyone chant Rama nama and also preached that the only way to attain god in this Kaliyuga was chanting the name of god.
Sridhara Ayyaval, of Tiruvisanallur was a contemporary to Bodhendral. He was elder to Bodhendral. They happened to meet each other once and after that they would go together to the villages to do Nama pracharam. They would go to a village and initiate everyone in the village with Rama nama. Once done they would move to the next village. Bodhendral once came to a village called Perambur. One day he was invited by a person to his house for Biksha (lunch). His son was dumb (incapable of speaking). Bodhendral would go to places only where people chanted Rama nama. So he initiated him with Rama nama and also asked him to ask his wife to chant the name of Rama while cooking. When Bodhendral came to his house for lunch he felt very bad that there was no way for his son to say Rama nama as he was dumb. He then felt that his nama siddhantam could not help people like him to reach god. After the lunch when the family prostrated to Bodhendral he was filled with tears in his eyes for the boy. On seeing this, the man said that it was his destiny to be born like this and asked him not to be worried about him. Bodhenral then told him that he was only worried about how he would attain god and not because he is dumb. The man immediately told him that now he knew that his son will definitely reach god as there is a guru who is bothered about him. He also said that his guru kripa will help him attain god. After that the kid automatically started chanting Rama nama in his mind. Forever he would be with Bodhendral and do service to him. Bodhendral was about to leave Perambur after 4 months and the kid started crying as he could not bear the detachment from his guru. Bodhendral then gave him his Sri Padukas and left.
Bodhendhral made the Nawab of Arcot as his disciple. Arcot was hit by plague once and there was no treatment for this. The Nawab was also attacked by plague and it so happened that Bodhendral was there in Arcot then. The people in the city went and told their problem to Bodhendral who then asked them to get together and chant Rama nama. Once they did this everyone were cured and there was no trace of plague in the city. The Nawab then gave some land to his mutt and became his follower.
During his yatra Bodhendral once went to a village called Thirukokarnam for nama pracharam. He was initiating everyone in that village with Rama nama. A dassi came there to him and asked if she could also chant Rama nama and if he would initiate her. Bodhendral initiated her with Rama nama without any hesitation. Those days sanyasi’s were not even allowed to speak to women and when he directly initiated a women that too a dassi, the villagers started speaking ill about him. After some days Bodhendral left the village. The dassi was chanting Rama nama religiously and would chant though out the day. Bodhendral happened to come back to that village after some time. By the time Bodhendral came back she had finished chanting crores of Rama nama. The dassi came to have a darshan of Bodhendral and after prostrating to him she left this world through Kabala moksham(spirit leaving the body, opening the top of her skull at her own will) in front of her guru like how a yogi leave this world. The villagers were surprised seeing this and realised their mistake.
One day kids were playing in the banks of Kaveri. They would keep their feet in the mud and close it with mud and then remove the disappeared leg from the sand. Bodhendral had now planned to leave this world, so he went to the children and said that he would come out if they buried him inside the sand. Taking this for true the kids dug a pit and asked him to get inside. They then closed him completely with sand while he was meditating. Next day people in the village were searching for Bodhendral and they couldn’t find him. The kids then told them that he is buried under the sand and that he had asked them to do that. The villagers were now frightened. They then decided to start digging there and all of a sudden there was a voice saying that he was in Samadhi here and that no one should disturb him. After a few years the exact location of his Samadhi was forgotten as they had not build an Adhishtanam.
After 100 years of his Samadhi, Maruthanallur Sadguru swamigal decided to find his Samadhi and build an Adhishtanam around it. He searched for the exact location in Govindapuram. He would tie his legs and crawl on the river bank as he did not want to accidentally touch the Samadhi on his feet. At one place he could hear Rama nama being chanted and he immediately found out that it was the location where Bodhendral had attained Samadhi. He then went to Maharashtrian king who was then ruling Thanjavore and with his help built the Adhishtanam there.